Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks

Since living in Colorado, I’ve had been planning to go to Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. It was about a seven-hour drive from Denver and I doubt I would ever live anywhere closer. So I put up a Couchsurfing post and a young kiwi named Simon replied. I had a travel partner!

Jackson Hole

Simon was visiting a friend right outside of Denver and I picked him on my way out. We agreed to stay our night in Jackson Hole the first night. Instantly, Simon and I clicked, for seven hours we had a drive of nonstop laughs and great chat. Which was much needed considering that drive is very boring. Upon arrival, we called around and got a discounted room at an inn and enjoyed beer and pizza for the night.

Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons was mostly Simon’s idea. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go, but I thought it would be really similar to what I was seeing in Colorado. Boy was I wrong! Grand Tetons was absolutely beautiful. It was snowing our first day there and camping in Grand Tetons was a bit rough. The snow made it hard to do much hiking, but we were able to get one trail in and see some sights. We made friends with some “locals” aka seasonal workers, who came and partied with us for a night. We timed it pretty well as it was off season and the weather cleared up after our first night.

Yellowstone

This was the park I was most excited for and we planned to stay an extra two days and night. After all, it’s America’s first National Park! Yellowstone did not disappoint in the least. We had to camp in the town next to the park, which was technically in Montana. Yellowstone closed most of its camps and had a bike event which sold out the campground at the time.

First Phase

We spent driving around Yellowstone close to our camp. We didn’t have much time as it was getting dark soon after we set up camp. We saw heaps of buffalo on our side of the park, so we spent time pulling over and checking them out. The next day we woke up early and went straight into the park. We went over to the “Grand Canyon” side of the park and did some sight seeing there. I put “Grand Canyon” in quote because it’s not the famous Grand Canyon in Utah/Arizona. It’s not even the same river. Nonetheless, still beautiful gorges and waterfalls to be seen!

Second Phase

We spent the day checking out the mineral pools and geothermal side of the park. Lots of short walks that loop around colorful pools and smelly patches of land. The most popular one is called the Grand Prismatic Spring. During this phase, we went and say Old Faithful go erupt, which is what Yellowstone is most famous for. After a day of geothermal activity, we decided it was time to shower. We haven’t since Grand Tetons as our camp was pretty primitive. We ended up finding a public shower in the back of a laundry mat, which was a first for me. That night, we decided to go out to a local bar and man did we make a lot of friends. I would mostly chalk that up to Simon as he was a foreigner and very outgoing.

Phase Three

This was our hiking phase! We spent most of our final day hiking up Mt.Washburn. As we go to the top, we had to start trekking through snow, but that didn’t stop us! This was also the highest elevation (10,243 feet) Simon has ever hiked. The top was a fire watch station where you had amazing lookouts over Yellowstone. We ended our day with some nice views of Yellowstone lake and started our trek back to Colorado.

On our way back we stopped in Casper, Wyoming because Simon wanted to have the “most American” meal possible, so we went to a steakhouse. Wyoming is a pretty interesting state where we drove through some of the smallest towns and barely saw anyone. Also, Wyoming has a statewide American Indian radio station which we listened to for awhile. I was upset to send Simon with his friend who met me in a town on my way back to Colorado. They were heading elsewhere. Thank you for the awesome trip Simon!

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